Scripture Verse

Our years are threescore…and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Psalm 90:10


Words: Ben­ja­min Bed­dome (1717–1795). Pub­lished post­hu­mous­ly in Hymns Adapt­ed to Pub­lic Wor­ship (Lon­don: Bu­rton & Briggs, 1818), num­ber 711, alt. Short­ness of Life.

Music: Camp­meet­ing Am­er­ican camp meet­ing tune. Har­mo­ny by Ro­bert G. Mc­Cutch­an, 1935 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tunes:

If you know where to get a good pic­ture of Bed­dome (head & shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els),

Robert G. McCutchan (1877–1958)


Our life is like a va­por, gone,
Our mo­ments swift­ly fly;
Lo, scarce our sands be­gin to run,
Ere we be­gin to die.

Our days on earth are but a span,
A sud­den breath of air;
Lord, what a brit­tle thing is man,
How vain is mor­tal care.

Various un­num­bered ills at­tend
Our weak and help­less frame,
Our fleet­ing life, so soon it ends,
lt scarce de­serves the name.

No weav­er’s shut­tle moves so fast,
No stream so swift­ly flows;
Time bears us on with ra­pid haste,
To end­less joys or woes.

See, sick­ness, sor­row round us wait,
And nature is in­firm;
Our age to se­ven­ty years is set,
Alas, how short the term!

Or, should we by un­com­mon strength
To four­score years at­tain,
Yet fee­ble­ness will come at length,
And bring dis­ease and pain.

Oh may I learn the heav’n­ly art,
T’improve each pass­ing hour;
And what my hands shall find to do,
Dispatch with all my pow­er.